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Trail Stop No 5 - Sir Edward Hain and the Hain Steamship Company

The Hain family had been involved in shipping since the early part of the 19th century, building and operating a number of commercial sailing vessels. The fourth member of the family to be called Edward Hain was born in 1851, and he initially pursued a career in banking and commerce rather than in the family shipping company. However on returning from London to St. Ives he became convinced that the future lay in steam rather than sail, and persuaded his father to invest in the construction of the first Hain steam ship, the Trewidden, named after the estate of the Bolitho banking  family who had helped to finance the vessel. Subsequent Hain vessels all bore names beginning with 'Tre', the Cornish word for homestead.

The Trewidden was launched on 19 November 1878 and built by John Redhead and Co. in South Shields. Edward Hain set up a number of companies but in 1901 these were merged to form the Hain Steamship Company Ltd, at that time with 22 vessels. Redheads would subsequently build a total of 87 ships for the company. The company was successful and continued to grow and in 1910 Sir Edward became President of the Chamber of Shipping of the United Kingdom.

Sir Edward was actively involved in local politics as a Liberal, representing St. Ives on Cornwall County Council for 13 years and becoming mayor six times.  He was elected as the town's MP in 1900 and served until 1906. He was knighted in 1910 and was High Sheriff of Cornwall in 1912.

The number of Hain steamships had increased to 36 by 1913, but the company lost 18 vessels during the First World War as a result of U-Boat activity. Sir Edward's son Teddy was killed at Gallipoli in November 1915 at the age of 28. His death hit the family hard and Sir Edward never fully recovered from the loss. In June 1917 he suffered a severe breakdown during a German air raid in London and he died at the family home in St. Ives, Treloyhan Manor on 20th September 1917.

After his death the company was purchased in its entirety by P&O, but the Hain Line continued to be run as a separate enterprise. More ships were lost during the Second World War and in 1964 the Hain Shipping Company was amalgamated with another P&O subsidiary, James Nourse Ltd becoming the Hain/Nourse Line. After further reorganisation in 1972, amalgamation into the P&O Company was complete and after a hundred years of trading, the Hain name vanished from the British Mercantile Marine.

The Hain family has left a substantial legacy in St. Ives. They purchased the building which became the Edward Hain Memorial Hospital, and this has recently been saved for the town as a result of a substantial local fundraising initiative. Sir Edward funded the rebuilding of St. Nicholas' Chapel on the Island and the construction of Bedford Road Chapel and several of the fisherman's lodges on the Wharf.

Sir Edward Hain


Sir Edward Hain and Lady Hain

Hain Trewidden  1879.jpg

SS Trewidden, built in 1878, the first Hain Line steamship

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